Although some people might not think of items that have little monetary value becoming common sources of probate litigation or other legal headaches following the death of a loved one, many families in the Saint Paul, Minnesota, area may find themselves having to fight over photographs and other information stored on a social networking site or in the internet "cloud."
Interestingly enough, loved ones may find their biggest opponent in getting access to these types of personal property will not be other heirs and beneficiaries, but software companies and other providers of technology and internet services.
Many key technology providers feel that they are bound under federal law not to release social media information and other information stored online to anyone except an authorized user of the account. The technology companies make no exceptions, so when the authorized user dies it can have the same effect as leaving property in a safe deposit box and then throwing away the key.
Several states have tried to pass legislation to correct this issue. However, many relatives and friends of the deceased are simply left to try to figure out their loved one's passwords or otherwise get access to the account. Sometimes, they even choose to litigate the matter with a technology company.
Perhaps the best bit of advice is for Minnesota residents to make sure that the loved ones that they want to have access to the deceased person's digital world have the ability to get access and establish a legal right to it.